One of our ports on a cruise is Portovenere. We would like to go to Cinque Terre for the day. What is the best way to get there and back? Is a tour the best option since we will be there only for the day?
I have not done it personally, but there is a ferry that runs between Porto Venere and Vernazza (in Cinque Terre). You can Google it, or maybe someone has done it personally.
I had this bookmarked and may try it this summer: http://www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it/orario.asp?lang=eng The boat goes to all but Corniglia. There is also a train that goes to all 5 towns. I had thought the boat would have a great view of the area in the afternoon light but the boat does not run very late. Here is another fun bookmark: http://webcam.nuovogarden.com/nuovogardenwebcam.jpg Very useful for long boring meetings, just refresh your browser and everyone will assume you are checking email, they may wonder why you are smiling :-) That webcam is in Levanto.
Here is one in Monterosso al Mare - scroll down to see live webcam :-) http://www.villasteno.com/en/view-from-the-rooms.php
gayle, As the others have mentioned, taking the boat from Porto Venere to the CT would be the easiest method. However, you'd have to be careful to ensure that you were able to get back to your cruise before departure. There are a couple of different methods you could use. You could take the boat to Monterosso and then work your way back to Riomaggiore by train. The local trains are cheap (€1.60 as I recall) and run fairly frequently. From Riomaggiore take the boat back to Porto Venere. You could also do that trip in the reverse direction. The boat is not a "Ferry" in the usual sense in that it doesn't carry cars, but more of a large passenger boat. They usually run the bow up to the dock and then lower a ramp. There's also Bus service from Porto Venere to La Spezia, where you can connect with the local trains. However, as I recall the Bus station in La Spezia is a bit of a walk from the rail station. Again, you'd have to be careful to ensure that you can get back to the ship before sailing. I'm sure the cruise line will be offering tours to the C.T. towns (probably somewhat "pricey" though). I frequently see groups from the cruise ships when I'm in that area, especially in Vernazza and Monterosso (the cruise ship groups are not hard to spot). Happy travels!